Joined: 20 Aug 2017
Posts: 22 | TRs
|This was my first trip in the Chelan-Sawtooth wilderness. Based on some beta from a friend, I had an idea that the ridges are good for traversing, so I thought I'd give it a try.
I started at the West Fork Buttermilk trailhead. I started my day late so I set up camp at Star Lake and made a quick evening ascent of Star Peak. It wasn't until the sun was below the horizon that I realized I forgot my headlamp down below, so it made for a an even quicker descent!
The next morning I started up Fish Creek Pass and over to Courtney. Based on my friend's advice I skipped Oval. Maybe it was a good idea, maybe not. It didn't seem like it added much to the views so I'm okay with it . From Courtney I followed the ridge all the way to War Creek Pass, heading down only at Tuckaway lake. This included hiking over Battle, South Sun, Sun, and Splawn. This is all class 1 or 2, not very challenging stuff, but definitely short on water. I ended up very dehydrated
The ridge walking here is so nice, there's really not much to complain about. Sometimes it got brushy, but in this Northern section that was pretty minimal and easy to avoid.
My next goal was to check out these pretty lakes on my map, the Triplet Lakes. Amazingly, I cannot find any pictures of these on nwhikers. I only find one post where the OP is confused about the (confusing) name. The lower lake is no bueno, the upper lake is b-e-a-utiful. It is incredibly green. Unfortunately I had bad light to catch the color. I tried to polarize through my sunglasses, not sure how well it worked.
I also had the pleasure of checking out the open slopes east of the lakes. Looks like a fabulous place to return to when the larches change. I followed the mellow slopes down to the summit trail and made my way back to camp at Star lake.
The next morning I packed up camp eager to check out some stuff to the south. I first made my way over to Surprise and Finney lakes. The basin just north of Surprise was such a pleasure. I was greeted by so many squeaking columbian ground squirrels, I loved it. I also saw one of the smallest black bears I've seen just before the basin, it ran away quick.
The trail to the pass above the indianhead basin is at 7000', not at 6900' as the map says. It's easy to miss, so keep an eye out. I am not sure what the best route up to the Finney lakes is. I went all the way to the pass and then walked down to 7100' and over. I should have probably just left the trail at 7100' and traversed over, but I wanted to see into Indianhead basin (not worth it).
I enjoyed the lakes with some lunch. I wanted to climb Finney Peak, but wimped out after looking at it and considering how much I had ahead of me that day.
From here, I followed the summit trail to just below Boiling lakes where I left some food and gear to make my bag lighter. My plan was to return here and camp at Boiling for the night.
From the Boiling turnoff, I followed the summit trail to Merchant's basin where I checked out the Cooney lakes and Sunrise lake. Sunrise lake was such a pleasant surprise. Definitely my favorite lake of the trip. I was surprised that no one I talked to (except for the one guy I saw there) was including this in their golden lakes loop trip!
I quickly made my way back to Boiling Lake for an early camp. In hindsight I should have followed the ridge over Switchback, Martin, and Cheops. Oh well, gotta leave something for next time.
The next day I followed a boot path over to Hoodoo basin and up to Hoodoo pass. I made a quick ascent of Bigelow, not much to report there.
My goal for the day was to follow this ridge back to Star peak and then back out to my car. I began this way from Hoodoo pass, which was a bad idea. The ridge just west of Hoodoo pass is so nasty and brushy. I should have just dropped into the basin and then up to Pt. 8010. Oh well, I didn't do that. I followed the ridge to Beefhide Butte, which was a serious pleasure. This was maybe my best view of the whole trip. I could see all of the peaks in the area, plenty in GPW, and I had a beautiful view into Bernice Lake and Surprise lake. Unfortunately, it didn't seem like I could make my way from Beefhide to Seance. The ridge north of Beefhide Butte looked far too iffy for me to try on my own, so I decided to head down into the Basin and over to Bernice. Luckily I found a path basically all of the way by heading SW from Beefhide. I was shocked at the trail to Bernice, considering I hadn't seen one on any of my maps. It was incredibly well used, including by some sort of biker (looked like motorbike tires, but I hope not). Either way, bikes aren't allowed in wilderness so it was a bit sad to see.
From Bernice I wanted to continue on my ridge, so I made my way up towards Starlet. Oof, I got stopped again. The stuff around Starlet was a bit too much for me again as I continued to get cliffed out no matter which approach I took. I instead did some horrendous and scary contouring around 7700-7800' below Starlet to get back on my ridge. After attaining the ridge again, it was a very fun walk back up to Stark Peak. Nothing too difficult here until you hit some class 3 on the Star east ridge. It was fun to attain Star from two different angles on the same trip . From there I quickly made my way back down to my car and out. Overall, a successful trip!